If you've ever heard the phrase 'blood diamond', you may already be aware that the phrase relates to diamonds from Sierra Leone that, through consumer purchase, helped fund a civil war that lasted from 1991-2002 and left over 50,000 people dead. In 1995, the open-air mine chiefly responsible for these diamonds, the Koidu mine, was awarded to South African mercenary company Executive Outcomes. EO fought on behalf of the ruling government for a time during the war, taking the mine as payment. Since then, the Koidu mine changed hands several times before its current owner, Koidu Holdings, took control.
It's no longer 'blood diamonds' per se, but what it is isn't all that much better. I'll let Mariana van Zeller explain further about the Koidu mine, as she reported in a 2009 Valentine's Day episode of Vanguard on (pre-Olbermann) Current. You'll want to skip to 14:44, which is right when the warning pops up telling you that you're going to be seeing graphic images of war and that you may want to hustle the kids out of the room. (It's a two-part episode, by the way. The first half of the episode involves Kaj Larsen traveling to Colombia to tell you why roses aren't such a hot alternative.)
Koldu Holdings, which sells about 60% of their finds to Tiffany's, is now considering an IPO in the Hong Kong market, which would open themselves up to Chinese investors. The Reuters article explains that while Western investors are put off by diamonds' market volatility, they're just the kind of thing that excite the Chinese.
Is this likely to result in more money for the city of Koldu? Considering that there's a diamond mine in town and that, as van Zeller reported, the locals live in one-room houses about the size of your bathroom and have to resort to candlelight during the evening, no. No, it won't. In fact, it may make things much worse. Koidu Holdings is aiming to quadruple the output of the mine over the next few months, from 10,000 carats a month to 35,000-45,000, and is eyeing Chinese riches as an incentive to do so.
Go back and watch that clip again. Did you catch the part about people taking eight-hour shifts shoveling dirt and mud in 90-degree weather for 30 cents a day and two cups of rice?
Quadrupled. Within the next few months.
Consider cubic zirconia.